Updated: Jun 5
Most of us get caught up in all-or-nothing or "black-and-white thinking." In CBT, these extremes of our thinking lead to anxiety, depression, and exhaustion.
All of us fall prey to this cognitive distortion, but there is a technique to reframe it.
Dr. Daniel Siegel uses a visual of a river of integration that is helpful to embrace. If you visualize a river, on one shoreline is where someone lives in rigidity-where everything is controlled, including yourself and others (black and white thinking).
On the other shoreline is chaos. On this shore, you feel out of control; it's unpredictable and unstable, as Jung said in the quote, "nonsense." Rather than fight against one shoreline or the other, Siegel (and me with my clients) suggest "jumping in the river," where you find a flow of flexibility, adaptivity, coherence, energy, and stability.
When we flow like the river, we can jump to the shoreline of rigidity by choice, like when we know we have to meet requirements for our taxes or an exam we are taking. Or we can flow and choose to jump out of the river into chaos where we are hoping for an adventure!
Rather than focus on right or wrong, consider your two shorelines.
You're vacillating between sense and nonsense when you get stuck in your thinking. Jump in the refreshing river, visualize yourself right now. Sun shining on your face, the cool water lapping around you, flow with it and choose to meld together both sides of the shorelines, flow, and when you CHOOSE, you know why you're choosing, and it allows for self-awareness, self-compassion, and the growth of skills.
I'm willing to bet you're currently stuck in a situation.
Maybe you're struggling with sticking to your new goals.
Maybe you're struggling with a family member.
Maybe you can't understand what to do at work.
Maybe you are struggling to break free from sadness or anxiety.
I am currently offering master's level clinical mental health counseling to individuals in Georgia, both online and in person. I am also accepting coaching clients from all over the US. If you're interested, please reach out to learn more. You can respond to this email or grab the link below.
Living on either shoreline is exhausting and lonely. Let's jump into the river together and learn to recognize it's not always the situation we are struggling with; it's how we think about the situation.